She sat alone in the warm hospital lobby, her ankles primly crossed as she smoothed an imaginary wrinkle for the train of her pristine gown. It had taken her two hours and a week's wroth of a nurse's salary to pay for the olive green raw silk number, but when she looked at herself in the mirror before leaving her cottage that evening, she knew that it had been well worth it. Tapping her freshly polished nails against her thigh idly, she tried not to feel annoyed that he was running late. He had always had a problem with punctuality, an issue that only worsened when he chose the detective's line of work.
Elizabeth Spencer watched as familiar faces flooded through the front doors. She smiled kindly at Nikolas Cassadine and Nadine Crowell as they came in together looking like the perfect couple. Nikolas had long been one of the most important people in Elizabeth's life, and she was glad to see him finally happy again. He might not want to realize that he was slowly giving a part of his heart away to the blonde nurse, but Elizabeth had seen the way he gazed at Nadine. It was as if the whole world's fate rested on her lips whenever she was speaking to him. Nikolas had always had the impeccable gift of making everyone woman feel as though she were the only one in the room, and that irreplaceable talent had now been bestowed upon Nadine.
Just behind Nikolas and Nadine was Carly Jacks. Elizabeth had little use for the woman, but her heart went out to her. Tonight had to be a difficult one for the resilient blonde who was still reeling from the unfortunate accident that had been inflicted on Michael earlier this year. Elizabeth remembered that night every day when she woke up with an entirely different life than the one she'd planned last spring. Nearly everyone touched by the lively redheaded boy was still living with the repercussions of the needless violence. Elizabeth was living proof of that herself. As she watched Carly hold open the elevator to wait for her companion, she was once again reminded about what she had lost.
Jason Morgan slipped from the elevator and reached for his best friend's hand. Oblivious to anything and everyone else around him, the infamous mobster looked as svelte and delicious as ever in his designer suit and azure button-up. It was clear that Carly had chosen his outfit. Elizabeth knew that Carly always bought him blue shirts because they brought out his eyes and made him look softer. However, Liz understood now that the softness had nothing to do with the color. The only person who could really have that impact on Jason was Carly. She was the one person who could break through everything and wasn't afraid to fight to stay in his life. Elizabeth had tried to love him like that for a long time, but seeing her child kidnapped had destroyed that tenacity. Unlike Carly, Elizabeth couldn't put herself through that again. Carly had more faith in Jason than anyone ever could, and for that, Elizabeth had to admire her adversary.
Carly and Jason didn't seem to notice Elizabeth as they passed by, too wrapped up in their conversation and in each other to really take heed of anyone else around them. Elizabeth looked up as the elevator dinged, hoping that her date for the evening had finally made his appearance. She was disappointed when Sonny Corinthos stepped off with his latest wife, Claudia Zacharra, in toe. The power couple was dressed from head to toe in black with the exception of Claudia's cherry red stilettos. Sonny's hand rested on the small of his wife's back as he guided her through the corridor toward the boardroom where the event would be held. Elizabeth shivered as a hush fell over the entire floor. Those two were danger personified and represented everything that Elizabeth had walked away from. Sonny bent to whisper something into Claudia's ear, eliciting a sly smile from the vixen. Claudia and Sonny exchanged a knowing gaze before following in Carly and Jason's wake. Just as they turned the corner, Claudia looked back and caught sight of yet another new arrival.
Ric Lansing had hardly been invited tonight, which was to be expected given his history with Carly. Elizabeth couldn't help but wonder why he was still so determined to gain Sonny's acceptance. She had tried to love the stubborn lawyer years ago, but he had been broken beyond her capabilities. She'd never thought her heart would be too small to give someone the love they needed, but Ric needed something that no woman could ever give him. He needed acceptable and recognition from his brother. Even now, as the legal counsel to Sonny's powerful organization, Ric was still chasing after his brother. It was known around town that Ric was sleeping with Claudia whenever she would allow him to, and Elizabeth knew that it was just another small way of getting back at his brother. He was screaming for attention, just like a little boy. It made her sad to know that he would never get past the six-year-old jealous of another child he believed to be the chosen one.
Elizabeth glanced back down at her watch and then up at the elevator again. He was now running fifteen minutes late, but she knew that she had no choice to be patient. He would be there. He was always there when she needed him. Pasting on an inviting smile, she raised her hand slightly to greet Port Charles' newest parents, Patrick Drake and Robin Scorpio. Robin looked just as frazzled and disconnected as she had earlier that day when Elizabeth had stopped by with a casserole to welcome them to the neighborhood. She had felt guilty when she had left their house, wondering if she made Robin feel inferior just because she had managed to get this parenting thing down a little. Patrick tried to assure her that she hadn't overstepped, but she couldn't help but feel like Robin was angry at her for something. There was clearly something off about the new mother, but both Patrick and Robin refused to admit to it quite yet. As they waved back with their tired smiles, Elizabeth promised herself that she would do her best to be a supportive friend to them both.
Robin stopped in the hallway to greet her cousin, Maxie Jones. The frosty blonde was beaming on the arm of her best friend, Spinelli. Looking very much like Carly and Jason who'd come before them, Maxie and Spinelli lived in their own little bubble that few could penetrate. Spinelli had a way of loving and accepting Maxie for who she was, no small feat in Elizabeth's opinion. He was able to deal with her hysterics, her drama, her mislaid plans, her misguided words, her life. It was clearly something else he had learned from his so-called master. Elizabeth hated to admit that she was jealous of both Maxie and Carly. Despite whom they were – or maybe because of whom they were – they had the selfless love of two good men. She didn't question if Jason loved her, she knew that he did. She just knew that he didn't love her like he loved Carly. Just as she and Lucky had once talked about their love being a permanent lock, there was an eternal connection between Carly and Jason. Watching Spinelli smile admiringly at Maxie, she knew that the two best friends had found the same thing in each other.
Another victim of the Carly-Jason dynamic came bustling through the lounge from the boardroom with a blonde magazine editor behind him. Jasper Jacks was the epitome of many women's dreams – charming, handsome, rich and generous. Elizabeth had seen just how appealing he could be a few years ago during the surrogacy. Even now, three years later, he still remembered the day they'd lost their child and brought flowers to her at General Hospital. His kindness was something that she had always appreciated and thought that Carly never deserved. However, if the rumor mill had it right, Carly and Jax were going to go through with their divorce. After numerous attempts at reconciliation, one of the city's latest great love stories was finally going to get its not-so-happy ending. Jax turned to Kate Howard and said something softly to make her ruby lips turn up in a wide smile. He looked genuinely happy as he spoke to her, and Elizabeth hoped that they could find happiness in life after Carly and Sonny. If there was hope for the two of them, maybe she would be able to find a little bit of it for herself.
Elizabeth felt a light tap on her shoulder, and she turned around to meet Monica and Edward Quartermaine. She had been meaning to call Monica all day since it was Emily's birthday. Standing up, she embraced the cardiologist warmly before leaning over to kiss Edward on the cheek. Many people had unkind things to say about the Quartermaines, but they had always been accommodating to Elizabeth. The three of them spoke briefly about the night's event and a little bit about the young boy who had brought them all there together. Elizabeth made mention of her best friend and tried to fight back the tears that had been threatening to fall all day. It was the second birthday without Emily, but this year wasn't any easier than the last. With a promise to bring the boys by for Cook's famous cookies, she bid Edward and Monica farewell as they went off in search of their seats.
Another familiar face stopped her from returning to her seat as Lulu Spencer made her appearance on the arm of Johnny Zacharra. The young blonde looked overwhelmingly happy and completely in love as she greeted her former sister-in-law with a hug. Elizabeth and Johnny exchanged polite smiles as Lulu prattled on about all the traffic outside the hospital. Elizabeth couldn't help but feel a little sorry for the naïve young woman, knowing that she had no clue just what a heartbreaker Johnny was going to turn out to be. No matter what she tried to tell herself, no matter how much she had built them up as the next Luke and Laura, there was no way Lulu's heart was going to get out of this relationship unscathed. Johnny was of a certain breed that thrived on adrenaline and danger. He would eventually return to the world he'd been born into because as Jason always told her, you can never get out completely. Still, as she looked at the young couple now, she wanted to have hope for them. History had just taught her better.
A gaggle of her fellow co-workers made their way by as Lulu continued to talk about something that Elizabeth was only pretending to have interest in. Leyla Mir, Kelly Lee, Lainey Winters and Epiphany Johnson were all dressed to the nines in their satin dresses and sparkling jewelry. Elizabeth nodded slightly at Epiphany, who rolled her eyes at the other three women's incessant gossip. However, she was glad to be in their company tonight and going to an event that was so important to her beloved hospital. Elizabeth looked up to Epiphany for her role at the hospital just as she had Bobbie before her. With Bobbie out of sight more and more these days, she was glad that they had the headstrong Epiphany to lead them fearlessly through the numerous debacles that were inevitably inflicted on Port Charles. And the other women – the ones that Elizabeth enjoyed knocking back shots at Jake's with – were apart of that faithful crew that had helped save this town over and over again.
Finally, Johnny managed to convince Lulu that they needed to see Carly before the night kicked off and dragged his still-talking girlfriend toward the boardroom. Elizabeth looked over at the clock again. She was looking at the better half of twenty-five minutes of waiting now. Vowing to give him five more minutes before she would make her grand entrance alone, Elizabeth resumed her people watching just as Diane Miller and Max Giambetti came in with Mac Scorpio and Alexis Davis. It made for a mismatched foursome, with Max and Mac representing very opposite sides of the law. However, Mac and Alexis were there to officially represent the city of Port Charles since Mayor Floyd was still recovering from his latest skateboard mishap. Diane and Max were people from Sonny's organization and part of Carly's life. Despite their very different roles in the legal system, Diane and Alexis had become friends. It reminded Elizabeth a lot of her friendship with Emily all those years ago when they had been two very different girls from two very different worlds.
Alexis stopped for a moment as someone called out her name. Elizabeth recognized the light in her eyes immediately as the look of a mother. A moment later, her three girls came into view as Kristina Davis toddled along side Sam McCall, who was holding a sleeping Molly Lansing in her arms. Kristina ran past her mother and into Max's arms, having a soft spot for her father's favorite bodyguard. Max and Diane fawned over the little girl, a spitting image of Sonny, while Alexis brushed a kiss over both Sam's and Molly's foreheads. Elizabeth felt as though she was intruding in a very private family moment. This was a side of Alexis that she knew very few were privy to. As tough and demanding as the district attorney could be, she had a surprisingly significant maternal side that she had dedicated to her three daughters. There were few people that Elizabeth truly admired besides her own grandmother, but Alexis was definitely worthy of that.
Sam smiled across the room at Elizabeth before shifting Molly into her mother's arms and retrieving Kristina from Max. The group made their way past, exchanging pleasantries with Elizabeth on their way by. If things had been just a little bit different, there is a good chance that Sam could be the one sitting on the sofa waiting for him to show up. However, the last two months had changed everything. It was strange to her sometimes. It almost felt like things were going back to how they were two years ago – before the pills, before the blackout, before Jake. Sam and Jason were on the same side again, though she wasn't sure that their reconciliation would include love. Jason's attention seemed to be focused elsewhere right now. Even so, he had clearly let his former fiancé back into his life on some level after escorting Elizabeth out of it. She sometimes felt penalized for having two children, but she wouldn't change it even if she could. Without those two years of blindly loving Jason, she wouldn't be where she was now. She wouldn't have come to fully appreciate what had always been right there with her.
And then, as if he had been waiting for his cue, Lucky Spencer stepped off the elevator with an apologetic smile apparent on his handsome face. After more than a decade of knowing and loving the rugged Spencer boy, Elizabeth still swore that he was the most beautiful man she had ever seen. From his sparkling blue eyes to the masculine scent that was uniquely Lucky, he still had the ability to make her feel weak in her knees just as she had at fifteen. Dressed in a black suit with a green tie that matched her dress, the wait suddenly seemed worth it. However, he wasn't alone, and his companions were what instantly made the night for her. Cameron and Jake were dressed in suits that matched their father's, complete with the same tie and polished shoes.
"Mommy!" Cameron called as he took off running ahead of his father, not stopping until he had flung his arms around his mother. Elizabeth picked up her oldest son and squeezed him tightly, taking in that little boy smell she knew he'd lose all too soon. "Look at me, I look just like Daddy."
"You look absolutely handsome," she complimented him before allowing her eyes to shift toward Lucky. He grinned boyishly at her, fully understanding her implication. She let Cameron back to his feet so that she could hold her youngest for a moment. This was always her favorite part of coming home after a long day at the hospital. "All my boys look quite dapper."
"And our girl looks quite beautiful," Lucky murmured as he leaned over to brush a kiss on her cheek. Elizabeth blushed under his watchful eye before turning to retrieve her clutch from her abandoned seat. As she turned back around, her heart fluttered at what she saw. Lucky was kneeling down in front of the boys, readjusting their ties. Of all the people watching she had done all night, this was by far her favorite sight. This is what she had come to the benefit for. "What do you say, Spencer family? Shall we make our entrance?"
Cameron and Jake cheered excitedly as they grabbed onto their parent's hands. Elizabeth slipped her hand into Cameron's while Jake toddled along side Lucky. Lucky reached with his free arm and looped it through Elizabeth's. It was just a hospital benefit, but both Lucky and Elizabeth knew that it was so much more for them. This night represented a new beginning, one filled with promise of unconditional love and a happy family. It would take time and patience to mend everything that had been ripped apart between them, but they both wanted it to work. They had a long road ahead of them, but Elizabeth was confident that they would get there.
And as she slipped into the boardroom on the arm of Lucky and flanked by her little boys, she felt all eyes turn toward the Spencer family. It was a different kind of people watching, but for once, Elizabeth was glad that all eyes of Port Charles were on her.